Sunday, March 29, 2009

And his portrait looks like my friend Tristan

I've spent several joyful hours this weekend reading Yeats, grazing on my new copy of the OUP Major Works. I know shamefully little Yeats, and am enjoying rectifying it. I'd never before read 'The Song of Wandering Aengus', which begins:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

(The silver trout reminds me of an image in a poem of my own, so maybe I have read it before.)

The opening of his 'General Introduction for my Work' resonates with me because of my recent struggles to find a way to approach some personal material:

A poet writes always of his personal life, in his finest work out of its tragedy, whatever it be, remorse, lost love, or mere loneliness; he never speaks directly as to someone at the breakfast table, there is always a phantasmagoria.

And then later in the same passage:

'A wise man seeks in Self,' says the Chandogya Upanishad, 'those that are alive and those that are dead and gets what the world cannot give'.

I'm finding myself surprised at the direction opening up before me.


Blogger Andrew Shields said...

I have a poem called "Blackbird," which surprised me by turning into a poem about Odysseus. I wrote it in the late nineties.

A few years later, I was pleased and surprised to discover, while reading Robert Fagles' translation of the Odyssey, that the Odysseus story I "invented" in "Blackbird" was, in fact, largely stolen from the Odyssey. I read the Odyssey first when I was 18 and wrote the poem when I was in my mid-thirties.

So yes, maybe you had read the poem before ... :-)

9:29 PM  
Blogger Tony Williams said...

Yes, I'm increasingly sure I must have done. Isn't it funny how we're using such advanced technology and then every now and then something like this reminds you that we're all running dusty old analogue brains...?

11:27 AM  

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